By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — Hockey actually has a uch longer and richer connection with Black history than many realize. There was a Black professional hockey league decades before the NHL.  This week the Nashville Predators wore a special jersey to honor Black History Month. 

As explained on the Predators’ website, third year Tennessee State Professor of graphic design Eric Jackson was stunned when he got an email from Nashville Predators Graphic Designer Courtney Gilliam – a former student of Jackson’s from his days at Middle Tennessee State University. Gilliam asked Jackson if he’d be interested in designing a special jersey that would be worn by the team during warmups before their Black History Month game this past Tuesday. 

Jackson, a designer himself and an avid hockey and Predators fan was delighted at the opportunity. He used the the designs of traditional Kente cloth, a fabric originating from the Ewe and Ashanti tribes of Ghana, West Africa, as inspiration. 

Originally worn by royalty and during special occasions, Kente weaves intricate patterns and bright colors together to tell a unique story.

“Kente, in a nutshell, is a message,” Jackson said. “When a person sees it, there’s an understanding they can clearly see that may tie back to a specific tribe, or royalty or a last name. And that’s of course something that’s very significant that came from the Ewe and Ashanti tribes.” They were worn by the Predators in their first game since the All-Star break against the Vegas Golden Knights.

As they began play this week following the All-Star break,  the Predators after 48 games were 24-18-6. They have 54 points, which puts them three points behind for the second wild card spot and six behind for the first in the Western Conference. There are 34 games remaining. The Predators travel to Philadelphia Saturday for a game against the Flyers.